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CELEBRATING 30 YEARS OF SONIC THE HEDGEHOG


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WELCOME

WELCOME

Welcome to our dedicated Sonic the Hedgehog publication, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the ‘blue blur’.

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ack in 1991, Sonic the Hedgehog sped into the lives of millions of video games fans across the globe, leaping, spinning and catapulting himself into their hearts and minds. Since then, Sonic – or the ‘blue blur’ as he is affectionately known – has grown and evolved into a global leading evergreen entertainment brand. Video games, animation, film content and a host of consumer products give fans a myriad of ways to experience the Sonic universe, while all keep the core attributes of the character – his playful attitude, aptitude for perseverance and signature spin dash– at their centre. With 2021 marking the 30th anniversary, SEGA continues to innovate with its gaming experiences, while also teaming up with new partners which add fresh dimensions to the character and break the mould when it comes to new product development, all the

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while remaining true to the essence of Sonic. With the birthday celebrations in full swing, we take a look at how far the brand and the licensing programme has progressed through the levels, with a close look at the Sonic story… so far. We find out the roots of the brand, how a worldwide franchise grew out of the original Mega Drive game and how the 30th campaign is a tribute to Sonic fans everywhere. “Our main goal has been to pay tribute to the fans who have been with us all along, and to generate excitement among fans new and old for the upcoming experiences we have in the cannon,” Ivo Gerscovich, chief brand officer at SEGA America tells us. With new games, a Netflix Original animation and a movie sequel in the pipeline, it is clear there is more to come from everyone’s favourite hedgehog for many years yet.


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CONTENTS

WHAT’S INSIDE 04

Where it all began – the history of Sonic the Hedgehog

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Fast at 30 – what’s in-store to mark the 30th anniversary

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An all-around entertainer – we take a closer look at the movie, TV and gaming plans in the pipeline

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Partnerships & Collaborations – from high-end fashion to highly collectable figurines

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Toy story – we find out more from Jakks Pacific about its toy plan for Sonic

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Speeding into retail – just some of the major retail collaborations coming up in 2021

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Hitting top speed – how licensees are celebrating Sonic’s key milestone

Key SEGA Europe contacts: Jason Rice, director of brand licensing – Jason.Rice@sega.co.uk Toby Rayfield, senior licensing manager – Toby.Rayfield@sega.co.uk Kay Ferneyhough, senior retail development manager – Kay.Ferneyhough@sega.co.uk Samuel Byard, product development manager – Samuel.Byard@sega.co.uk

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WHERE

IT IT ALL ALL

N A G E B From the original sketches in the early 1990s through to movie hero in 2020, the evolution of Sonic the Hedgehog is a true success story.

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ack in 1991, a speedy blue blur was about to be unleashed into the new decade and on to the world. “Sonic’s origin is one of our favourite topics!’ begins Ivo Gerscovich, chief brand officer at SEGA America. “The first ideation of Sonic came about in the early 1990’s from Naoto Ohshima, who created the original design of Sonic. “As a brand, we wanted to create a persona that people everywhere could resonate with, and when Ohshima-san brought back sketches of a blue hedgehog, we knew

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that it would be a good match because of the speedy and witty personality and overall look of the blue blur. The rest, as you know, is history.” It was obvious early on that Sonic the Hedgehog had the potential to expand into the consumer products space too, as well as video games. Ivo continues: “We began exploring licensing partnerships a couple years after the release of the flagship game, Sonic the


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THE ORIGINS OF SONIC

Hedgehog in 1991. In the early 90s, we were very much focused on building out the games portfolio for the first Sonic the Hedgehog games 1-3 on the SEGA Genesis. One of our first major licensing partnerships was with McDonald’s in 1994, where we collaborated with them for Sonic 3-themed Happy Meal promotions. “Since then, we have worked with a diverse range of licensing partners to produce a variety of Sonic-themed products and collectables including clothing, soundtracks, board games and toys such as figures and plushes, food and beverage products, comic books, television and film content and more. As a result of the brand’s current success in the licensing sector, we are now the number 59 licensor based on License Global’s 2021 Top 150 list, which we’re incredibly proud of.” As the fan base for Sonic has grown, SEGA and its partners has expanded the franchise to include a plethora of ways for them to experience the Sonic Universe. “We’ve always strived to keep the core attributes of Sonic consistent, namely his playful attitude, aptitude for perseverance and signature speed,” Ivo continues. “The central change agent has been technology, in allowing us to continually innovate our gaming experiences using the latest game design tools, and expand across multiple platforms and mediums. From games to comic books to television series and feature films, there are more ways than ever to experience Sonic the Hedgehog’s adventures.” While Sonic’s core attributes have predominantly remained the same, SEGA has successfully kept him current by ensuring that the storylines and dialogue are culturally relevant to the times. “Sonic’s ability to adapt is one of the key contributing factors to the franchise’s longevity,” states Ivo. His fan base is also truly multi-generational and

far reaching, contributing to Sonic’s global success story. “As we saw with Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog movie, it was one of the most successful box office releases in recent years, grossing over $300 million globally, with over half of that revenue attributed to international sales,” Ivo offers. “In addition, the film topped Pokémon: Detective Pikachu in North America - becoming the biggest video games movie ever in domestic grosses - and Resident Evil: Afterlife worldwide.” At 30 years young, SEGA certainly sees more growth ahead for Sonic – as you’ll discover over the next several pages. Ivo concludes: “Further growth for the Sonic franchise will come from our upcoming gaming and entertainment experiences, but a large portion will also be attributed to licensing as we continue to expand our partnerships.”

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FAST AT 30 He’s a pop culture icon grown out of the video games industry, and who now transcends many entertainment mediums. We find out how Sonic the Hedgehog is having a blast at 30… and has no intention of slowing down just yet.

“O

ver the past 30 years we’ve seen Sonic become a pop culture icon for the video games industry, and it's our goal to maintain his standing by continuing to develop innovative experiences for fans,” states Ivo Gerscovich, chief brand officer at SEGA America. “We don’t see Sonic slowing down anytime soon.” The ‘blue blur’ made his debut in the US in June 1991, followed by the rest of the world the following month, on the SEGA

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Left: Ivo Gerscovich, chief brand officer, SEGA America.

Genesis console. Since then, a plethora of games have sped into retail on a variety of platforms, while SEGA has also successfully expanded the character into animation and the box office and, of course, consumer products. Ivo continues: “At SEGA, the Sonic team has always strived to keep Sonic’s core attributes consistent while bringing fans innovative new ways to experience the Sonic Universe. Across our games,


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ANNIVERSARY PLANS

films, animation, comics and merchandise, we are always looking for new ways to authentically expand Sonic’s story, and we owe a lot of credit to our incredible partners in those categories, who have worked with us closely and enabled us to take Sonic to new heights, technologically or through new channels.” Fans can look forward to a variety of new gaming experiences in celebration of the 30th anniversary. Sonic Colours: Ultimate is due to launch across current generation consoles and PC on 7 September, bringing a new spin to the 2010 Nintendo Wii platformer. “We’re also making fan favourite games like Sonic Mania Plus and Team Sonic Racing more available than ever with platform expansions on Epic Games Store and Amazon Luna,” says Ivo. “You’ll also see Sonic making appearances in other popular games such as Minecraft and Two Point Hospital, along with a slew of mobile game updates for Sonic Forces: Speed Battle, Sonic Dash and more.” When it comes to new merchandise, a host of partners are on board for the UK ranging from Wow Stuff, HoloToyz, Fizz Creations and Corsair, through to Finsbury Foods, Moonpig, G FUEL, Character World, Groovy UK, Global Brands Group and Marc Jacques Burton to name just a few. Jakks Pacific will be launching a Giant Eggman Robot play-set, further expanding its successful toy range, and there will be publishing from companies including Dark Horse. “This is a momentous year for Sonic the Hedgehog and his fans and we are incredibly proud to be partnering with so many leaders in their field across such as diverse range of

product categories,” comments Jason Rice, director of brand licensing at SEGA Europe. SEGA has also created a variety of special content specifically for the 30th anniversary, as Ivo explains. “In June, we released a commemorative global video, titled ‘Unbreakable’ that featured Sonic as an inspirational hero, for the 30th anniversary which was published on the Sonic the Hedgehog YouTube channel. “We also hosted the virtual event, Sonic Central, where we shared all the activities we have planned for the 30th anniversary spanning games, animation experiences and partnership announcements. We heavily utilise our official Sonic social media platforms to share updates with our community first and foremost, but we’re also teaming up with media partners like Summer Game Fest for special events, like the Sonic Symphony Orchestra virtual concert event that took place on Sonic’s birthday (23 June).” Since May, a global marketing campaign has been running, with rolling coverage of announcements across licensing, games, partnerships and more. “This has set us up for an exciting 2022 with upcoming activations that will go through the end of the year,” says Ivo. Ultimately though, the 30th celebration is all about the fans, Ivo concludes: “With the 30th anniversary campaign, our main goal has been to pay tribute to the fans who have been with us all along, and to generate excitement among fans new and old for the upcoming experiences we have in the cannon.”

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MOVIES, TV & GAMING

AN ALL-AROUND ENTERTAINER All of Sonic’s key personality traits have been translated across many mediums – from the character’s gaming heartland, through to the Hollywood Big Screen and, in 2022, in a new animated adventure on Netflix.

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arly 2020 saw Sonic the Hedgehog transfer his talents onto the big screen, starring in an action/adventure comedy alongside big Hollywood names including Jim Carrey and James Marsden. The film was a runaway hit with cinema audiences, making over US$300 million at the box office, with production now underway for a sequel for release in 2022. “Sonic has transcended so many mediums of entertainment since his video game debut in 1991, and when we were

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approached by Paramount, we were thrilled to deliver Sonic to fans in previously uncharted territory,” SEGA America’s chief brand officer, Ivo Gerscovich. “It’s a privilege to be able to bring his character to a multitude of platforms, and we are always looking to take on new adventures with our dedicated fanbase. “We knew that Sonic would touch the hearts of many by being in a film, while also marking a new milestone for the Sonic brand and solidifying his reputation as a pop culture icon.” While details on Sonic the Hedgehog 2 are being kept tightly under wraps for now, Ivo is looking forward to the continued expansion of the franchise on the big screen. “One of our main goals at SEGA is to continue building upon the experiences and platforms available within the Sonic brand to open the beloved hedgehog to new audiences, and we always strive to meet this goal in new and exciting ways. “We think that the movie, along with other recent initiatives, served this purpose, and we hope that we can expand even further with the 2022 release of Sonic the Hedgehog 2.”


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MOVIES, TV & GAMING

BLUE IS THE COLOUR Games are undoubtedly Sonic’s heartland and since his first appearance back in 1991, the character has kept gamers entertained across numerous platforms, notching up over 1.14 billion game units sold and downloaded to date. “All of Sonic’s key personality traits have been translated across mediums, but that’s true, games are where it all began!” says Ivo. “We know our core audience really has an affinity for the playable version of Sonic, so we do our best to stay true to what fans

are expecting and deliver the Blue Blur they’ve come to know and love.” SEGA revealed earlier this year that Sonic Colours: Ultimate would be arriving on 7 September on current generation consoles and PC, with Ivo saying the company “couldn’t be more excited to bring the title to our fan base”. In addition, the character will also be making appearances in other popular games such as Minecraft and Two Point Hospital, while fans can also expect a slew of mobile game updates.

PRIME TIME Netflix, SEGA America and WildBrain are working on a new animated adventure – Sonic Prime – set to premiere worldwide in 2022. The series will be animated at WildBrain’s Vancouver studio, with SEGA and WildBrain jointly participating across production, distribution and licensing. Man of Action Entertainment – the creator of Ben 10 and the characters and team in Big Hero 6 – is on board as showrunner and executive producer for the 24 episode series. “Sonic Prime will expand awareness of the franchise by leveraging Netflix’s extremely wide audience,” says Ivo. “It will also bring fans an all-new animated adventure, drawing on the keystones of the Sonic brand that fans have come to know and love. Fans will journey with Sonic on a high-octane adventure where the fate of a strange new multiverse rests in his gloved hands. But it’s more than a race to save the universe, it’s a journey of self-discovery and redemption.”

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PARTNERSHIPS & COLLABORATIONS

“We have a variety of anniversary collaborations available and on the horizon,” says Jason Rice, director of brand licensing at SEGA Europe. “These include fashion partnerships, gifts and collectables, toys and a selection of retail activities.”

LEVELLING

UP

FASHION Supplied exclusively by licensee Global Brands Group, Skechers will be launching a limited edition kids apparel collection for autumn 2021, ahead of a wider apparel collection for spring 2022. The multicategory range will be sold across EMEA and promoted in-store this Christmas.

Starter Black Label The iconic brand will launch a limited edition young adult collection celebrating Sonic’s 30th anniversary.

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Marc Jacques Burton Launching for AW21, this collaboration with high-end fashion designer Marc Jacques Burton comprises a limited edition adults capsule collection under the label ‘MJB’, plus a young adults collection under the ‘FELT’ label. It will be sold globally and promoted in Selfridges, London via an exclusive pop-up store installation.


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PARTNERSHIPS & COLLABORATIONS

GIFTS & COLLECTABLES Rubber Road Designed by Numskull, the 30th anniversary figure has been available for pre-order since March, with product launching from August.

First 4 Figures Launching later this year, a limited edition 16” collectable resin statue will feature a recreation of the 30th anniversary key art of Modern Sonic jumping through a gold ring. The base will feature assets taken from some of Sonic’s most iconic levels.

Exquisite Gaming A limited edition 30th anniversary Cable Guy is available now. The phone and gaming controller holder stands at 8” tall and includes 2m of type C USB charging cable.

TOYS Character Options A limited edition Character Options gold Stretch Sonic – featuring floating gold rings – will be launching later this year.

And in the US… SEGA America has also been busy securing a raft of partnerships and collaborations. “There’s a handful of Sonic fashion collaborations that are coming up this year in celebration of his 30th anniversary, including a King Ice official jewellery collection and a range from Graph Gaming that will feature exclusive apparel and accessories dedicated to Sonic,” says Ivo Gerscovich. There’s plenty happening outside of the fashion categories, too. Ivo continues: “Dark Horse Comics is producing a Sonic Encyclo-speed-ia, a full-colour hardcover retrospective exploration of the Sonic franchise; Funko is bringing a new collection of Pop! Vinyl Figures that fans will recognise as iconic Sonic characters; IDW Publishing has released its first Classic Sonic adventure in a new mini-series; and FiGPiN will be producing collectable enamel pins this winter. G FUEL has also relaunched the PEACH RINGS flavour as an exclusive 30th anniversary celebration for Sonic.”

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JAKKS PACIFIC’S TOY PLANS

d e e p s o t p U Jakks Pacific is an important licensing partner for SEGA, bringing Sonic further into the toy category with its successful range of figures, play-sets and plush. And the relationship is continuing to grow and flourish.

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aving launched its first Sonic product range back in 2019, Jakks Pacific is now into its third year of sales with the brand. “The product really started to gain a lot of sales momentum in winter 2019,” says Craig Drobis, svp marketing at Jakks Pacific. The company’s 10cm scale Above: Craig Drobis, svp Jakks Pacific. figures were the initial offering and marketing, Right: The depth of characters in the franchise they have been the lead item in Jakks plenty of terms of sales right from the start. gives opportunities to release new figures. A 6cm scale figure and play-set The Giant worlds – beginning with the Green Below: Eggman Robot Battle Hills Zone – expanded the range in Set is new for this celebrating the history of the franchise winter. winter 2020, while a 16cm plush and the groupings of characters the has performed well in both Classic and fans want. Finally, we developed a movie versions. 15cm collector figure of Classic Sonic There’s more to come, too, says Craig, with all the articulation and swappable notably the Giant Eggman Robot Battle Set pieces the collector demands.” this winter which will able fans to So, does Craig have any hints recreate the final about what’s still to come battle scene from in the future in terms of the game. new toy lines for Sonic? There is also “Speed is what we need anniversary product, to deliver in the toys to with Craig commenting: make sure we deliver “A nice thing about the the essence of Sonic, anniversary and all the and that is a point of activities that SEGA has focus for the future,” planned is that it gives us he teases. “The toy a rallying point for the has to be fast. Other line as a whole. We have than that tease, all I can incorporated the say is that SEGA’s plans for Sonic in the future anniversary packaging style guide and logo call will not disappoint out on all products. It has and Jakks’ toys afforded the opportunity won’t either.” for 6cm and 10cm multipacks of figures,

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RETAIL

SPEED DEMONS A wide variety of retailers are marking the 30th anniversary of Sonic the Hedgehog both instore and online.

A full greeting cards range launched earlier this year in the UK, Australia and North America featuring both Classic and Modern Sonic. SEGA-specific social posts, an email campaign and a competition were also planned for the 30th anniversary.

Zavvi is celebrating 30 years of Sonic with a ‘dash, jump and spin’ with its new The Emerald Club collection. The range features fan favourite characters across clothing, homeware and accessories. Sonic also takes centre stage on a pair of limited edition Akedo high tops.

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RETAIL

Supporting the growth of the toy range Smyths have launched a Sonic landing page, in addition, they have plans for a social media and email campaign ahead of the launch of Sonic Colours Ultimate in September.

To mark 30 years of the blue blur, SEGA has launched a special edition anniversary collection. Designed with an iconic 30th anniversary logo and released in a range of apparel, accessories and homeware, this is a must for all fans.

Tu continue to support the brand with more apparel, accessories and footwear for both kids and adults coinciding with the release of Sonic Colours Ultimate this Autumn. The toy aisle will also welcome Jakks Pacific’s 4” figure and 9” plush. New for this year, Sonic will feature in Boots Christmas selection! The range includes a mix of mens lounge pants, socks and slippers from Misirli and mugs from Fizz Creations. Autumn will see the retailer extend its current range of kids’ nightwear to include kids daywear, adults day and nightwear, bedding and soft furnishings, as well as the toy range from Jakks Pacific.

Following the success of boys day and nightwear Sonic was added to Next’s ‘mini me’ programme with a t-shirt spanning all size ranges, from 18months to an adults 5XL.

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MOOD LIGHT

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Visit fizzcreations.com or email sales@fizzcreations.com Fizz Creations, 6 Commerce Way, Lancing, West Sussex, BN15 8TA

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LICENSEE FEEDBACK

HITTING TOP SPEED A classic brand with a strong fan base, coupled with a great style guide equals a host of innovative products hitting shelves. Some key SEGA licensees share their thoughts on the ‘blue blur’.

Zoe Ryan, marketing manager, Fizz Creations “It’s quite amazing to think that Sonic is 30 years old - I remember playing the game first time round on the Master System and Mega Drive so it was great that our Fizz range is based on Classic Sonic. There was such excitement and enthusiasm to be working with the licence throughout the entire business it seems that iconic blue hedgehog has played an important part in many lives and his legacy looks set to continue. Working with the passionate team at SEGA to launch our Sonic the Hedgehog range of gifts has been fantastic. The line-up features puzzles, water bottles, stress squeezers, mugs, socks and two outstanding lighting products – the iconic logo light and the mood light featuring Sonic’s head complete with 3D quill detail. Below: Fizz Creations range is based on I can’t wait to see it in Classic Sonic. shops and online later this year!”

Below: In addition to its 30th anniversary statue, Sonic also features in Rubber Road’s Tubbz range.

Liam Taylor, commercial director, Rubber Road “If you’re into games you know SEGA and you know Sonic. There is always a buzz around the design team and commercial teams when we know we’re working on something relating to that iconic blue hedgehog. We’re especially proud of our statue that celebrates his 30th anniversary coming later this year. We’ve even managed to get a duck to dress up as Sonic and his friends in our Tubbz range. We’ll keep working on giving fans of Sonic products they never knew they wanted until they see them in to 2022 and beyond.”

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NIGHTWEAR & UNDERWEAR

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LICENSEE FEEDBACK

Toby Davies, commercial director, Steamforged Games “With its enduring popularity with players of all ages, the host of well known characters and amazing and recognisable artwork, Sonic the Hedgehog was a perfect choice for a family card game. Because Sonic's all about speed, we created a racing game that's fast to learn and fun to play, and tension builds the longer players push their luck. SEGA has been tremendously supportive of our creative vision. We’ve also worked closely with SEGA Store EU, which has been fantastic in helping to get the game out in the market. We’re already seeing strong demand from retailers and fans who want to get their hands on it for Christmas this year.” Above: Steamforged has created a Sonic racing card game that’s fast to learn and fun to play.

Tim Kilby, brand and ecommerce director, Character World “Sonic the Hedgehog holds a special place in our heart - it was our first gaming brand we signed nearly 13 years ago, so it’s great to once again be a panEuropean licensee at such a great time with the anniversary and all the amazing content SEGA have coming. It’s no surprise we have significant retail demand for our bedding and accessories that are launching imminently. In terms of 2022, it’s perfect for us and retailers to know in advance that there’s so much happening for the Below: Sonic was the first gaming brand which brand across new gaming, Character World signed TV content and the sequel nearly 13 years ago. movie at the cinema and we look forward to making a huge success of Sonic the Hedgehog once again.”

Monique Scott, md, Groovy UK “Working with SEGA this year has been brilliant for sales and product development. Sonic the Hedgehog fans have gone crazy for our bathrobes, slippers, lighting, bags, towels and rugs. We’ve gone with both classic and stylish so there is something to suit everyone. The SEGA team have been easy to work with Above: Fans have gone and, as a result, we were crazy for Groovy UK’s able to get products range which includes bathrobes and slippers. developed quickly for launch. Due to the increased sales success, we are really looking forward to adding a lot more to the range next year.”

Faye Rashad, design and licensing manager, Misirli “Misirli are proud to be longterm partners with SEGA on Sonic the Hedgehog and have been supplying the high street retailers and grocers across nightwear, underwear and socks for men’s and boys across their amazing Classic and Movie style guides. We love working with the team at SEGA they are enthusiastic, quick to respond, creative and a true partnership. I am a particularly hardcore fan as I have so many childhood memories playing on the SEGA Mega Drive with my brother collecting those gold rings and dodging the spikes while looking for the Above: Faye secret ‘holes’ to gain extra lives. says that she has many childhood memories of playing Sonic on the SEGA Mega Drive.

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NOVELTY SOCKS

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NIGHTWEAR | UNDERWEAR | SOCKS | SLIPPER SOCKS

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BOXERS, SLIPS & PJ’S

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Sonic 30th Anniversary – LSB Summer 2021  

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